Howzat goes for a sail. Or no handed sailing


Well-known member
28 Jul 2003
West Australia
I am reluctant to tell this story cos it makes me look like a fool and rightly so but maybe my friends on this forum will get some amusement from it.
It all started Sat afternoon when my son announced he was going to take some friends out for a sail. The nominated time was about 1 and a half hours away so I thought I would go for a little sail single handed and then hand the boat over to him when he and the friends arrived on the jetty.
The boat is a very lively light weight trailer sailler 21 ft normally kept on a swing mooring and taken home (very soon) for the winter.
I put on no 3 jib and a reef in the main as it was blowing about 10 knots and I had a beautiful sail up and down the river (estuary) but believing the guests would be late I got a bit bored and tied up at the local Yacht club jetty to hose of the foredeck where the cormorants had made a mess.
The jetty was aligned with the wind and was vacant so it was no trouble to sail up and tie the bow on the the post.
i used a light scrap of poly rope about 6 mm. yes subconciously i looked at the rope and had some doubts but well I was right there hosing the boat down. Of course the water gets at an old mans bladder and the loo was only 30 metres away. you guessed it I got back from the loo to find the boat about 20 metres out from the jetty adrift.
Imagine the dismay. A friend had just returned from a sail in his 21 fter and I raced over to ask if he could get under way and help. i looked back againn and Howzat was sailing fast toward the jetty and I raced to it to hope to avert or minimise the collision. Almost immediately it rounded up did a tack and headed out only to bear away and head again toward the jetty. I had left the main and jib up but not sheeted and the tiller free. It was doing beautiful circles in front of me about 30 metres in diameter ( the tiller seemed to be hard over all the time) and about 30 metres out. so near yet so far. My friend was under way and I jumped on his boat as he passed near the jetty. Then came the problem of how to catch this run away boat. The rescue boat under sail could never catch the runaway however we found ourselves heading toward Howzat which was at the time on a reciprocal heading. Only one thing for it but to make a wild leap.
That was a foolish decision ( for a 59yo) in that the closing speed of the two boats was in excess of 7 knots and my landing was on all fours in the cockpit, I thought I was gioing over the side. The noise on hollow F/g was 'orrible but miraculously no injury.
Through this episode a goup of sailors including past commodore were cheering and laughing from the bar balcony. Needless to say the boat was under control in a moment with no harm done and I definitely didn't go near the club again. Son meanwhile had been ringing on the mobile left in the cockpit but got no answer so was a bit concerned. I soon handed the boat over to him into more sensible hands.
So no harm done except to the skipper's ego. And it was all over in a few minutes.
One lesson apart from the obvious ( it seems the poly rope had simply slipped off the large plastic cleat on the bow due to slippery poly and not enough turns on the cleat.) is to be aware that it is dangerous to jump onto a moving boat especially from one moving in the other direction.
regards olewill


Well-known member
21 Jun 2004
Very brave of you to own up. Now there is a section at the back of Yachting Monthly where that story would fit in very well.


It sounds hilarious for the onlookers, but not so amusing for you, I am sure we all have done things and got away with it, there for the grace of god go most of us.


Active member
27 Feb 2003
Hampshire, UK

Very amusing, now that it's safely over. I did something like that with a dinghy once, but have never owned up. You should write it up and send it in to Yachting monthly, and they should give you something towards the beers you must have had to buy afterwards!


New member
18 Feb 2002
West Yorkshire, UK
Nice one. I think we all dread the consequences of those moments of innattention. Glad you and boat survived in tact. Your leap sounds like the kind of thing I would do, forgetting that advancing years are oft only apparent in such circumstances.

Have a vitual beer on me for raising a smile and reminding me of my fallibility.

Howard (59 years young also)